Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Paradise Built in Hell: Rebecca Solnit on "The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster"

A Paradise Built in Hell: Rebecca Solnit on "The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster"

(Be sure to click the sentence just above to watch this interview, which is largely centered on the racialized reactions folks had to Katrina and its victims, and where that reaction fits in the historical context of human reaction to large-scale tragedy; the transcript is below. --EH)

AMY GOODMAN: We continue on this fourth anniversary special, yes, four years after the storm. Anjali?

ANJALI KAMAT: It’s widely acknowledged that an estimated 1,400 people in New Orleans died in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. An underreported part of that story is the killings of at least eleven African American men in the days after the storm. They were shot by a group of white vigilantes in the predominantly white New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers Point.

Local police have never conducted an investigation into these deaths, but after an explosive Nation magazine cover story by ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson last December, the FBI initiated a probe into the Algiers Point shootings. Federal agents are now investigating the possible role of the New Orleans Police Department in the deaths of one of the men, Henry Glover, whose burnt remains were discovered in a Mississippi River levee not far from a local police station.

We’ll be joined in a few moments by writer Rebecca Solnit, who urged journalist A.C. Thompson to investigate this story. But first I want to turn to excerpts from a video produced by the Nation Institute and Hidden Driver. It’s narrated by A.C. Thompson and features interviews with some of the victims of the vigilante violence.

A.C. THOMPSON: At the ferry terminal in Algiers Point, the National Guard established an evacuation zone and began busing flood victims to Houston. On September 1st, 2005, Donnell Herrington left his home and began walking toward the ferry terminal with his cousin, Marcel Alexander, and a friend, Chris Collins. To get to the evacuation zone, the trio had to walk through Algiers Point.

DONNELL HERRINGTON: You know, I was talking to my cousin and our friend, and I was telling them that, yeah, we’re finally about to get out of here. You know, I was talking. I was talking, because my cousin was on the side of me, on the right side, and I looked down at my arms and everything, and—because, you know, some of the shots hit me in my arm, my chest, my neck, my stomach. And, you know, I just saw blood everywhere.

MARCEL ALEXANDER: As I’m trying to pick him up, they shot us again, so I fell. And Donnell’s trying to get up, and we all were trying. We’re panicking now.

DONNELL HERRINGTON: And he was like hollering, like, “You OK? You alright?” And he was, you know—like I said, he was pretty hysterical, man. And when I—you know, when I saw the guy, when I actually recognized the guy with the shotgun, you know, it was like he was reloading or something.

MARCEL ALEXANDER: As I’m trying to pick him up, they coming towards us with the gun. It’s like probably like—at that time, it’s like probably two or three of them.

DONNELL HERRINGTON: And so, now I’m trying to get out of this guy—trying to get away from him, you know?

MARCEL ALEXANDER: Two of them coming my way and one of them coming at Donnell with—[inaudible] Donnell. And I’m running, me and Chris, running, running. They was like, “We’re gonna get you! We’re gonna get you, nigger!”

DONNELL HERRINGTON: I ran up into the corner. And they had these two guys in a car. They had these two white men in a car, a older white guy and another—you know, a younger white guy. And they had their shirts off. I can remember, you know? And they were like in a small pickup truck.

MARCEL ALEXANDER: We know y’all—what y’all was doing. We saw y’all.

A.C. THOMPSON: Marcel goes on to say the vigilantes thought he was a looter.

DONNELL HERRINGTON: And, you know, I’m asking these guys, I’m like, “Help! You know, help me! You know what I mean?” And the guys was like—I can remember him telling me, “We can’t help you, you know? Get out of here.” You know what I’m saying? And one of the guys, one of them—I can remember one of them calling me a nigger. You know, “Get out of here, nigger! We can’t help you. We’re liable to shoot you ourselves.” That was the last thing I heard him say.

A.C. THOMPSON: Eventually, Herrington got help. A black neighbor drove him to the hospital, where doctors pulled seven lead pellets out of his neck and repaired a large hole in his jugular vein, saving him from death.


ANJALI KAMAT: We’re joined now from Santa Fe, New Mexico by author, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit. Her latest book examines Katrina and other disasters; it’s called A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. It chronicles both the crimes of the vigilantes and the powerful during Katrina, as well as the numerous instances of altruism, generosity and courage displayed by the vast majority of people who lived through this catastrophe.

Rebecca Solnit, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you start by talking about how you discovered this story and the process you went through before you got A.C. Thompson to investigate this? You write about how many of the mainstream media journalists you spoke to didn’t believe this story.

REBECCA SOLNIT: You know, the thing that still amazes me two-and-a-half years later is that the pieces of this story were all over town. If you wanted to know that this—these crimes had happened, you would know it. It was pretty clear the mainstream media didn’t want to know. Nobody was really looking at it. I had talked to volunteers who worked at the Algiers Common Ground clinic. They told me that vigilantes were confessing to them about the murders, about several murders. I talked to Malik Rahim, who I know was on this show right as all this was unfolding. He was talking about as many as eighteen men being murdered in that part of New Orleans Parish. I had seen Donnell Herrington, who you just showed, on Spike Lee’s documentary. I’d seen another documentary in which the vigilantes confessed on camera. I’d seen a lot of other pieces. It was really clear that there was a story here.

And I couldn’t find anyone to take it, until I talked to A.C., who is a friend of a lot of friends of mine. We were in the same social circles in San Francisco. And he eventually picked it up, with the support of The Nation magazine, as well as ProPublica. And it took him a long time to move forward with that. But he’s the one who really brought a lot more of the details to light, tracked down Donnell, talked directly to the perpetrators, and put it together. But, you know, a lot of the basic information was out there, if that’s how you were willing to think about Katrina. But that’s now how a lot of people were ready to think about it.

AMY GOODMAN: Rebecca, your latest piece, “Four Years On, Katrina Remains Cursed by Rumor, Cliché, Lies and Racism.” Talk about Katrina. Talk about New Orleans four years later.

REBECCA SOLNIT: You know, I think one of the important things to keep in mind is that the great majority of people behaved really well, that I was trying to write the counter-story to the story that most people heard in the beginning, which was about large groups of marauding hordes reverting to barbarism and savagery and violence and whatever. And I went to New Orleans to look at what really happened, which was an enormous amount of volunteerism, resourcefulness, altruism, generosity, heroism, on the part of the people who were stranded, on the part of the people who came in as volunteers and rescuers.

And the question for me is, so why did the minority misbehave? And in this case, I’m not talking about the minority the media were willing to target, which was supposed to be sort of the black underclass; the minority who were public officials and the vigilantes. They assumed, falsely, that because the public, in general, was behaving barbarically, they needed barbaric means to repress that public. Vigilante murders are part of a larger picture that includes the sheriff of Gretna and his henchmen turning people back from evacuating the flooded city at gunpoint, incidents of police violence, but also the mayor, the governor, FEMA and a lot of other people treating the city of New Orleans as though it was full of criminals, rather than victims, and essentially turning it into a prison city in which people were stranded and desperate. And the hospital evacuations, for example, could have happened a lot faster. It could have all happened a lot faster, if people had thought about these things differently.

ANJALI KAMAT: Rebecca Solnit, in your book, you talk about several disasters, and you mention how, even in this worst of times, in the midst of disasters and in times like this, the best instincts of people tend to come out. Talk about the sense of community that was built. You know, we’re focused on the deaths, on the vigilante shootings, but people also helped each other, ordinary people. How did they come together at this moment?

REBECCA SOLNIT: Yes, in most disasters, people do behave altruistically, resourcefully. They improvise communities. And they often find in that a real sense of joy. You see that in the 1906 earthquake. You saw that in 9/11. You see that in Katrina. And essentially, that the normal roles and boundaries that confine people are removed, and it’s absolutely necessary that people connect with each other, that they make strong decisions, that they take care of each other. And that’s what they do.

One of the tragedies of New Orleans is that, because of the stereotypes that turn into rumors, that turn into media reports, people believed that ordinary human beings were savages and were behaving barbarically. The truth of the matter is, even inside the Convention Center, even in the worst places, people were taking care of each other. People were improvising all kinds of communities in the school rooms and other places where they took refuge. And New Orleans, since then, has had hundreds of thousands of volunteers come in to work with the people of New Orleans. And for me, that’s the big story. And demographically, it’s much, much bigger. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people. And the minority who behaved terribly matter, but it’s important to keep the perspective that this is not how most people behave. This is indeed a minority.

AMY GOODMAN:
You put this in a very big context, dealing with disasters, from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco to the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, to Katrina. Talk, in those cases, about the similarities you saw, the individual heroes and heroines and the institutional crimes, the institutional lack of response.

REBECCA SOLNIT:
You know, a lot of my work has been based on the field of disaster sociology, which emerged after the World War II, when the US government decided it wanted to know how human beings would behave in the aftermath of an all-out nuclear war. The assumption, as it often is, is that we would become childlike and sheepish and panic and be helpless, or that we’d become sort of venal and savage and barbaric. And the disaster scholars started to look at this and eventually dismantled almost every stereotype we have and found that people are actually, as I’ve been saying, resourceful, altruistic, brave, innovative and often oddly joyful, because a lot of the alienation and isolation of everyday life is removed. And, you know, you saw that in the 1906 earthquake, which I studied a lot for the centennial a few years ago, that people created these community kitchens, that they were extremely resourceful and helpful. And you see that all through. You see that in Mexico City. You saw that in 9/11.

What you also see is that because the authorities think that we’re monsters, they themselves panic and become the monsters in disaster. Some of the sociologists I worked with—Lee Clarke and Caron Chess—call this “elite panic,” and that’s the panic that matters in disasters, the sense that things are out of control; we have to get them back in control, whether that means shooting civilians suspected of stealing things, whether that means focusing on control and weapons as a response, rather than on help and support or just letting people do what they already are doing magnificently. And so, it really upends not only the sense of what happens in disaster, in these extreme moments, but I think it upends our sense of human nature, who most of us are and who we want to be. There’s enormous possibility in disaster to see how much people want to be members of a stronger society, to be better connected, to have meaningful work, how much everyday life prevents that.

AMY GOODMAN:
Rebecca, we’re going to have to leave it there. Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jay Smooth Clip of the Week: He Kills It Again...



By the way, as a point of comparison watch Jay, a man of color, and the witty, intelligent way he tackles homophobia, and then check out the virulent racism of white members of the so-called "gay community" in the comments section at this link as they address the same issue...

Sight + Sound of the Day



Hmmm...

Doesn't this video, which very recently dropped, feel really old-hat? Even if viewed as comedic commentary on / clowning of Negroes who really think this way (and lots do), it just feels... old. I mean, Negroes who think they are actually doing something 'cause they have "white friends," Negroes who think they are on some "next shit" and "ain't ya average nigga" 'cause they listen to Coldplay or wear Ed Hardy, or surf/skate and hang out with their white friends (not friends who happen to be white, but their white friends) in trendy or non-nigga spots, while all sides wallow in exoticizing of the other... that's just a kinda new twist on hoary racial-psychological shit. And this video, played for laughs as it is, is just moldy jokes for a static cracka/nigga love affair; it's just draped in updated cultural drag. Maybe that's the real punch-line.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meshell Ndegeocello: Like a Real Revolutionary


As promised, here is the interview I did with Meshell. First up is the version that appears in the current LA Weekly. I am ambivalent about it. I was assigned a non-negotiable 1,000 word piece so I side-stepped reviewing the new CD (Mark Anthony Neal has a great take on it here,) and opted for a Q&A style so I could squeeze in as many of Meshell's own words as possible. That meant jumping around a bit and choosing chunks out of the conversational stream in order to cover as much ground (as many topics) as possible. What's lost in that is the natural flow of the conversation; there's a condensing of her answers and my questions. I will include the interview exactly as it transpired in Blood Beats Vol. 3. In the meantime (also as promised) I am including more excerpts from the original transcript... not everything (I need y'all to by Blood Beats 3) but enough to flesh out the conversation a bit more. First, the Weekly piece, then the bonus stuff...

Meshell Ndegeocello: Like a Real Revolutionary


Meshell Ndegeocello’s eighth studio album, Devil’s Halo (Mercer Street Records), synthesizes her varied influences as they’ve played out on her often brilliantly, at times, bafflingly, varied previous albums — notably Bitter, Comfort Woman, The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, and Spirit Music Jamia: Dance of the Infidel. At press time, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter-bassist-producer and her partner were awaiting the birth of their baby; that domestic equation is perhaps the most powerful element in the new music’s composition.

Speaking by phone from her Upstate New York home, Ndegeocello is lighter in spirit than she’s been in the dozen years I’ve been interviewing her. On Halo, that translates into vocals frequently delivered with a playful theatricality (first glimpsed on Man of My Dreams) that adds a jagged twist and a countercurrent joyfulness to sometimes emotionally bleak lyrics. All that serves as both complement and counterpoint to Ndegeocello’s patented mack-sexiness, which simmers through her remake of Ready for the World’s R&B classic, “Love You Down.” She talks about her love for RZA, the effects of downloading on indie artists, and what she has in common with black revolutionaries of the past.

L.A. Weekly:Press notes state that Halo has “no click track or electronic synthetics, with a focus on musicianship and live band energy.” But that's pretty standard for you...


Meshell Ndegeocello: Yeah, the wording is strange. I just really wanted to stress that there’s no Pro Tools. We recorded the initial tracks over a five-day period — me, [guitarist, co-songwriter and Halo co-producer] Chris Bruce and [drummer] Deantoni — to 24-track tape. Everything you hear on the CD is pretty much the first or second take.

How did you decide to co-produce with Chris?

The only past producer I’d ever wanna work with again would be David Gamson, but that hasn’t come up. I haven’t found anyone else I connect with, except for Chris. I’m a true believer that unless you’re Prince or Stevie Wonder — and even Prince is showing that he needs help — not everybody can produce themselves. I’m definitely not that person. Chris is a brilliant musician, amazing to work with, and just got the best out of me.

How did Spirit Music affect your approach to creating music?

In touring to support it, I got to play bass two and a half years straight. It improved my bass playing. It made me respect pop music. I know that’s weird, but I got to play with people who improvise seven days a week, 24 hours a day. That is an amazing skill. It made me appreciate songwriting because you need something that sparks their imagination to allow them to do that. On Devil’s Halo I was really concentrating on writing songs that would be inspiring to the musicians ’cause we’re gonna have to play them over and over again. They still maintain their form, but we all can have some personal self-expression.

You’ve said that the influences for Halo range from Human League to Wu Tang. Describe the Wu influence.

The track that’s Wu Tang–inspired is definitely “Love You Down.” I just love RZA’s programming, simplicity and space. He’s one of the greatest songwriters, and I don’t think he ever really gets credit for that. People keep him in the hip-hop genre, but I think he’s just great at these audio collages. I’m a big admirer.

Why “Love Me Down”?


Because it’s good! I love that song. Everyone remembers it from high school or junior high. It just brings back a flow of memories for everyone, so I knew I had to do it. And I hope to make a covers record.

It’s one of the longest tracks on the record. Most cuts are two minutes and some change; one is less than two minutes...


I guess I’ve purchased a few albums where I just go, “Wow. These songs are really long.” [laughing] My favorite period is when we lived in the land of the three-minute song. The Motown thing — I though they were genius in knowing that’s as much as a listener can take. I guess I was just really in that less-is-more, austere vibe.

One of Halo’s best tracks is “White Girl,” which reminds me of British artists from the ’80s experimenting with dub and reggae rhythms, groups ranging from the Police and Culture Club to...

English Beat, especially.

It also suggests Comfort Woman pushed out of its comfort zone.

Definitely dub is in my body forever. I think I hear everything through a dub filter. Even when I play rock music, I play through a dub filter.



How much was the hard-left turn of your last few albums — the experimentation in production, the genre-hopping — a conscious decision to burn down the tower in which critics and fans had placed you?

I made the first record when I was, like, 22. I’m 41 now. My son is 20. I’m just in a different place in my life. My partner is having a baby in a month. I see the world differently. I think the consciousness comes from that, with the artistic choices. I guess the world of the Internet also changes things. I’m no longer subjected to the Top 10 or the Top 100. I get the music from the last 100 years. That influences my filter, my consciousness.

Speaking of the Internet, chime in on the effects of downloading on the indie artist.

If you can afford it, please buy it. And just know that when you buy it, it allows that artist to have a chance to make something again for you. But if you can’t afford it but you really like it and you’re sharing it with your friends and spreading the positive sounds, I can’t really knock that. But your buying it allows me to take care of this next child and it allows me, hopefully, to make something else.

Let’s talk more about “White Girl.” A few years ago I interviewed you and you joked that you should do like all black revolutionaries and get yourself a white girl.

[Laughing] Yeah, I want a T-shirt that says that, but people won’t really get it: Like a real revolutionary, I married a white woman.

So you embraced the cliché?

It’s been an interesting thing in my life. I think I’ve always been postrace and I’m hoping that with Obama in office ... well, to bring up the lyrics to another song, the common thread is that we’re all gonna die. So find joy. I’m hoping these [bigoted] ideas we all have will fall apart. It’s very limiting to us as a species, the concept of better-than/less-than. It just seems to be at its end. I’m like, this all fades to black, and it’s gone. It’s dust. Choose carefully what you obsess about.

The LA Weekly interview is here.

BONUS excerpts:

Anytime there is a new Meshell album, one of the first things your fans ask is ‘Who else is playing on it?’ I know that [guitarist and album co-producer] Chris Bruce played on Bitter, but how did you come to have the rest of this particular lineup of musicians on Devil’s Halo?

Oh, uh, well, Chris is also just a friend. We haven’t played together [since Bitter] but we’ve kept in touch and we’ve played on some other people’s recordings, so that’s how it came to be. I was really looking for a change and he was the first person I thought of. And also, him and Oren Bloedow had been working with Lizz Wright so, like I said, we had just kinda ran into each other and Oren had to take another spot so Chris was my next choice. The drummer I also knew for a long period of time, just kinda knew from around New York, and he played on The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams. I fell in love with him. He’s my musical inspiration. And Keefus [Cianca] I’ve known since, like, ’93 in LA, when I lived in LA. But this was our first time to actually get to make music together. We just definitely had an instant connection. And the bass player I’ve known for a long time, too. So just kinda, like, people that I have a good rapport with, and that are inspiring. It just kind of came together in a natural synthesis.

Why does Meshell Ndegeocello have anybody else playing bass for her?

Because Mark Kelley is the best bass player in the world, hands down. I don’t know, I was talking to another interviewer and it’s really hard to explain to people. I guess an example is how I grow musically. I hope and think I grow musically. Also, I’m a bass player but I’ve been liking other instruments as well, so it’s not my schtick. I’m interested in other things too, other instruments. I’ve loved other things I’ve [heard] him play, and I can work out ideas in my head that only he can do sometimes.

Seeing Lisa Germano’s name in the credits made me smile.

Yeah, a lot of people, I mention her name and – a lot of people in my circle don’t know who she is. But it was just great to work with her. That was Chris’ idea and I’m glad it really worked out.

The musicians on the CD are the touring band as well?

Yeah, very much so.

Another striking thing about this album is the way you use your vocals. Even when the subject matter is grim, there is a notable playfulness and theatricality to your delivery that started with The World has Made Me the Man of My Dreams

Right, yes…

That’s when you seemed to start pushing your vocals, playing with offbeat accents and such, and that really carries over here. It has me wondering about a sort of chicken & egg equation: Did the music you were playing free you or inspire you to flip-up your approach to the vocals, or did you start writing music toward these voices and characters in your head?

Oh, there are a lot of people in this head. [She laughs.] I think I’m just becoming more comfortable to let those people out. That’s all.

I’m obsessed with sequencing on albums, how they are set up and how they unfold, how narratives can seem to almost organically play out versus how you can sometimes feel the plot being manipulated. On Halo, the first words out of your mouth are, “She said she loved me / I ran away / Don’t say you love me / I’ll run away…” and from there it’s a ride through polymorphous sex, boozing till black-out, lust and disappointment, blistering rock & soul. Did you sit down with your band, write the songs and then shape the album? Or did you already have in mind a kind of narrative you wanted to play out?

I wrote all the songs by myself except for “Die Young,” which a really good friend of mine wrote but never finished so I kind of finished it for him. But I usually write everything, and then I got together with Chris and we played a lot of the songs live and just tried to work out stuff, and then everyone contributes something so then it becomes a collective.
      I live in upstate New York and I just kinda sit in a room… I live in a teeny, tiny town; you could walk the whole town in minutes, and there are a lot of watering holes. So I’ve just been watching people, observing people. I think I’m less solipsistic, I’m trying to be, and narcissistic. I just like watching other people and seeing how they deal with life. Watering holes seem to be the unifying factor – drinking and love. That’s just kind of the head-space I was in.

You know, this is the fourth or fifth time I have interviewed you, and both in your [phone] conversation and in the energy of your performances on the CD, even when the material is bleak, there is a kind of joy consistently conveyed. It’s definitely the most “light” you’ve ever been...


Well, thank you. I agree. And you’re the first to hear that.

[I]n another interview I did with you when your son was very young, I brought up the issue of race and asked what kinds of conversations you had with him about it. At the time, you said that because he was so young you wanted to protect his childhood and not bring it up until he brought it up, and then you’d try to answer whatever questions he had. So now that he’s twenty, and you and Obama are post-race but there are tea-baggers and birthers and Republican operatives who most definitely are not, what kinds of conversations do you have with him about race?

He’s definitely had to experience that situation where, ‘You may be post-race but when you walk in the room, all they see is a very large Black man.’ He’s very clear about that. But also, the thing that he and I have discussed is, avoid delusion and insanity. And be kind. Because people are really suffering from delusion and insanity. When you see them out there protesting and being threatening, you have to step back and realize that’s delusional and insane. And be humble about it. Don’t you live your life that way. You have to truly see them for who they are, and just be kind.

Now, how does someone who is clearly very happy in her relationship write the lyric, "A wife is just a whore with a diamond ring…"?

Oh, now we get into the sexism. [She chuckles.] But, I mean, not to generalize, that’s what I see a lot. A lot of the images that I see in pop culture are like, 'If you liked it, you shoulda put a ring on it.' It seems like relationships have become like an exchange, I don’t know...

A trading of commodities.

Yeah, sex in exchange for all the finer things in life. But I also understand that there are some women who swear that everything is equal, that she’s super feminist, but if you don’t hold the door for her she get’s really upset. So, I critique both sides.

Having lived in LA, the Bay and New York City, how did you come to live in a small town in upstate New York?

Because I hate New York City. I’m really not a city person. I miss the Bay Area but there wasn’t a lot of music going on there, so it was hard for me. And when I lived up there I was a little bit too relaxed. This is a happy medium for me. It’s quiet. I love the change of seasons. It just works for me. It’s by the water. I’ve got a little bit of everything I need, here.

When you are an artist whose voice or vision is frequently misunderstood and you seem to constantly butt heads with people who say “No,” and it’s not because your work isn’t good but because they just don’t get it and aren’t willing to try, you – the creative person – can develop an almost Pavlovian response to the word no, or to any criticism...

[Meshell laughs]

So, where do you go, who do you trust to engage the work, to not have an agenda or blind-spot, and to pull your shirt-tail and tell you that what you are doing is not working, that it may not be good?

Oh, I have Chris. I have my partner who is an amazing artist herself – not a music artist but a writer and a graphic designer – so I have her. I have my best friend of twenty years. They’re not “yes” people. I’ve been very blessed to have that around me and I don’t take it for granted. I’m very wary of people who I feel don’t have my best interests at heart. I’m not in it to win a popularity contest. I like to be challenged.

How did you come to be on your current label (Mercer Street Records)?

Oh, yeah, [owner] Josh Deutsch contacted me and gave me this amazing opportunity.

Do you think this label might be your home for a while?

Oh, I know not the future so I never even speculate.


Other Meshell interviews are in my books Blood Beats Vol. 1 and Blood Beats Vol. 2, both of which are cheap as hell on Amazon right now so... please buy 'em. And my webmaster loves it when you leave comments here on the blog. It makes her feel like her work is seen...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Me + Meshell...

Interviewed Meshell yesterday (Thursday, October 1) and it was a really great session. Her energy is lighter, more peaceful, than I think it's been since I've been interviewing her. (This was our 4th or 5th time gathered round the tape recorder.) And I'm digging the new CD a lot. I think folks who are longing for another Plantation or Peace might still grumble, but Devil's Halo is really doing it for me now, especially the instrumental title track, "White Girl," "Mass Transit" and "Bright Shiny Morning." The interview will run in the LA Weekly in a few weeks but my assigned word-count ain't that high so I'll try to post up, here, what falls to the editing-room floor.

"A wife's just a whore with a diamond ring..." - "Lola," from Devil's Halo.